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|Russian Youth Practice 'Good without Borders' in Israel|
|By Dmitry Samko, UPF-Russia|
|Sunday, September 30, 2012|
Holon, Israel - A delegation of volunteers from Russia visited Holon, Israel, from September 22 to 30. Young Ambassador for Peace from different cities of Russia (Moscow, Nizhniy Novgorod, Izhevsk, Nizhnevartovsk, and Kazan) were warmly welcomed by a group of kind community activists from Holon.
This city near the Mediterranean Sea south of Tel Aviv became a real home for the nine volunteers who are always ready to spread goodness everywhere on Earth.
The group was invited by Vladislav Boguslavsky, head of the NGO "Shemet," who also works with the municipality of Holon. This was the third phase of the "Good without Borders" project. The previous phase took place in Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, when Israeli teenagers were invited to visit this Siberian city. This project seeks to build bonds between the people of Russia and Israel, who are separated by not only geographic but also political borders.
It should be mentioned that the Russians did not come to Israel just for fun or on holidays. On the contrary, the Russian delegation had a rather busy schedule. To start with, the Russians were invited to the City Hall, where they met Mayor Moti Sasson and showed him video greetings from the mayor of Nizhnevartovsk, a city at the center of the West Siberian oil-producing region. He thanked all the participants in the program and expressed hope that they would meet again next year. Also the mayor was appointed an Ambassador for Peace. Since his election in 1993, many cultural projects have been inaugurated in the city, which bills itself as a "children's city."
The Russian group also had an opportunity to learn more about the life of a real Israeli soldier. It is no secret that Israeli women also must serve in the army! This unique meeting with the members of the Israel Army erased all stereotypes about Israeli soldiers.
In addition, the Russians learned about the peace initiatives of the Israeli government. In Jaffa, they visited the Peres Center for Peace, which was established in 2009. In this center, Palestinians can get free medical care, including treatment for serious diseases. Volunteers at the center organize various educational and sports activities that encourage Palestinian and Israeli children to sit side by side, play together, and learn about each other without regard to political differences.
Here, people are working in a variety of ways (culture, sports, and medicine) to jointly promote reconciliation between the two sides of the conflict, Israel and Palestine. For example, children with heart disease may receive good treatment for free, despite the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians. It is amazing to see how people help each other, while politicians continue to divide the territory and fight.
Also the Russian volunteers met with teenagers at a community center and engaged in discussions about developing the "Good without Border project." Later there was a “Play Football Make Peace” match; these friendly matches aim to connect people from different cultures through good sportsmanship. This interchange culminated in a park dedicated to the 12th-century Georgian writer Shota Rustaveli; participants spent time together building friendship among the flowers and trees.
The project helped young people experience the inner spiritual world of goodness and human warmth. They saw the inner and outer beauty of the country through interchanges with people working in charities, government, and community organizations. They strengthened their commitment to make common cause with others, building peace through numerous small good deeds.